The antitrust lawsuit filed against Google this week is focused mostly on the
unit’s consumer business, but it also will have implications for the enterprise tech market where Google aspires to a greater role.
The suit could make it harder for Google to grow its share of the market for business software and services, where it has been hiring more staff, including senior executives. And other enterprise tech companies will have to be aware of the boundaries that emerge from Google’s contest with the government and be prepared to tread lightly.
Michael Bradshaw, chief information officer at NBCUniversal Media LLC, said the entertainment giant has limited exposure to Google’s enterprise tools today, but “risk evaluations” about the unit could come into play if his company used more.
“If using more of their enterprise toolsets, I’d be keenly focused on how sustainable a future they could have with any potential antitrust actions,” he said in an email.
The case against Google could take years. Analysts say there are many possible scenarios for how it unfolds.
Ray Wang, an analyst with Constellation Research Inc., said the lawsuit signals the need for companies to make sure they give rivals fair access to their tech platforms. This mostly applies to large tech companies, but could stretch to other industries and up-and-coming firms—especially as they increasingly chase data, scout tech talent and develop their own tech.
“Every company will have to think about how competitors can access their platform, how they can maintain a competitive environment, and what actions [they] need to take to look like they are an open ecosystem,” he said.
If Google loses, the broad implications of a potential breakup of the company on the enterprise tech market will depend on how the company might be divided up, said Tim Crawford, a CIO strategic adviser at consulting firm AVOA. He said one plausible outcome would see the creation of one entity that handles search operations and a separate one running the ad business. While not ideal for Google, he said, it would create competition for the ads business without cutting into the strength of the data.
Splitting business units could have implications for Google’s recruiting efforts, said Mike Tung, CEO at Diffbot, which runs an AI-powered search engine for businesses and doesn’t directly compete with Google’s search business.
“I think the real structural effect of that split would be Google’s ability to hire and attract,” he said. “An antitrust breakup would just exacerbate this effect.”
Google is trying to catch up in the cloud computing market with leaders
Amazon Web Services and
Azure. It hired Thomas Kurian, a former top executive at
, to run Google Cloud, and has been restructuring the division in an effort to boost growth.
Because the lawsuit focuses on Google’s consumer-facing business, the effect on Google’s enterprise IT business—known as Google Cloud Platform—will probably be muted, said Mike Gualtieri, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc. He added that Google’s rivals are unlikely to benefit from the lawsuit if it is part of a broader regulatory effort to crimp the power of big tech companies.
Google Cloud offers cloud services, software applications and AI services and competes with AWS and Azure.
Forrester estimates that the Google Cloud unit will have 2020 revenues of $12 billion in 2020, compared with $43 billion for AWS and $23 billion for Azure.
But the issue of tech monopolies isn’t cut-and-dried and may miss some aspects of the enterprise tech market that make it more competitive than it may appear, according to Mr. Wang of Constellation.
He added that Google’s dominance in search doesn’t always lead to dominance in other markets, such as commerce.
“Someone who searches on Google might end up buying on Amazon,” he said.
AVOA’s Mr. Crawford said he has doubts about how much good would come from breaking up the tech giants, partly because the data they have amassed drive benefits for the enterprise tech market as a whole.
“That isn’t good as companies enter an era where insights from data and cloud resources are key,” he said.
—Steven Rosenbush contributed to this article
Write to Jared Council at [email protected]
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